An on-going report of a volunteer fire fighter’s training in British Columbia, Canada
It’s been two weeks since my first training night. We don’t practise on long weekends, and we just celebrated Canada Day.
Tonight’s training is going to be at the church camp across the road from my house. I get to ride on the engine tonight!
We pull up to the camp and start staging the equipment, (lining them up end-to-end with lines in between) and I’m given an inch and a half off the engine to run into the bush. The line is charged, my husband tells my how to flush the nozzle, then heads off to run the tanker. I am left alone in the bush with a hose, no radio, no back-up, just me and the hose for 45 minutes. I decide to practise with the nozzle’s different adjustments: flow rate, spray settings, etc. and then they hook a two and a half inch hose to the engine as well. The rpm is adjusted to compensate, and wow! my hose (who was my nice calm friend) now wants to buck me off! I dig in, adjust my stance and hold that position for about 15 mins.
By now, my arms are screaming at me, and starting to shake. But I’m not going to lose this baby, not if it kills me! You see, the guy running the engine is the former Chief of our department, and for some reason, I have it in my head that this is the man I have to show my worthiness to. He’s the only one who can see me, and I feel his eyes on me every second.
I remember my husband telling me that if you coil a hose just right, you can sit on it and go for hours. I’m not ready to go quite that far, but I do put the hose between my legs, and that helps. (I’m not being crude, but who needs a Thigh Master?) I was able to hold that position for another 20 mins., and then we shut down. How do I know we have shut down, you ask, since I didn’t have a radio? There is no more water coming out of my hose! I turn around and see the other hose crew rolling up their hose, so I drain the hose and start to fling it over my shoulder on the way back to the engine. I’m exhausted, and soaked to the skin, but I try not to show it as we start to re-load the hoses back onto the engine. We all climb back on the trucks and head back to the hall.
The equipment is moved back into the hall, and then the Chief calls out for Scot airpack practise. I’m ready to fall on the floor, but my husband is the only one who can see just how tired I am. I manage to get the airpack on, only to find the straps don’t fit. The guy who used it last,(my husband) didn’t leave the straps in the full open position and then I’m trying desperately to turn the tank on,(holding my breathe) only to find out that it was left on. Frustating to the normal person, but even more so when every muscle in your body is screaming at you. I was getting quite cranky by this time, but thankfully, it was almost time to go home.
Our station had responded to a very serious MVA the previous week, and I had managed to copy the news clip of it the next night. We all settled down to watch the station in action, and then it was time to go home. I picked up my turnout gear and brought it home to have hubby fit me properly.
I climbed into the bathtub, only then realizing just how cold I was, and spotted some new bruises to add to my collection, but I felt proud. I wear them like badges of honour.